Minister Lee: Residents struggle to get medical insurance

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Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Labour Emil Lee

 

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Minister of Public Health Emil Lee acknowledged that residents continue to struggle to get access to medical insurance. According to Minister Lee, the biggest challenge is the legislation for the social and health insurances, which is executed by SZV. Residents, who do not meet the requirements of the law for SZV medical coverage, may turn to private insurance as an option. However, only a limited few may be able to afford private insurance. Minister Lee stated that the proposed General Health Insurance (GHI) ordinance, would be a positive improvement for residents now faced with denials by SZV for medical insurance, or those excluded because of preexisting conditions.”

“I was recently informed of 30 persons who do not have access to medical care because they were denied by SZV. This is not uncommon news, but we must not forget that SZV is an executing agency that implements the law. If a person does not qualify based on the law; that is the decision of the law and not SZV. To solve this the law needs to be changed. Residents should have access to affordable health care.”

The current legislation on social and health insurance which is managed by the SZV was established in 1966. The objectives of this law are to cover costs of curative care. Minister Lee stated that the proposed GHI legislation includes preventive care, which would be one of the added benefits of a law change. The present lack of preventive care is part of the problem that causes an increase in long-term medical costs. Some actions that are being considered with the change include screening for early detection of diseases and promoting healthy living.

“As we continue the conversations surrounding GHI, let us first agree that access to care is a fundamental right and once agreed we should work to eliminate the barriers to accessing affordable, quality health care.”